Ben Moore’s Art Wars NFT’s are set to test intellectual property law in the metavese. The FT reports:
Star Wars Stormtrooper helmets by artists including Sir Anish Kapoor and David Bailey have been photographed and turned into non-fungible tokens and marketed for millions of pounds without their consent. Curator Ben Moore took photographs of some of the helmets from a project called Art Wars, created by more than 300 artists since 2013, and put them up for sale for cryptocurrency as NFTs on the trading platform OpenSea yesterday. More than 1,600 ethereum (£5m) had been transferred since the collection of 1,138 images was put on sale yesterday. One NFT attributed to Kapoor was on sale for 1,000 ethereum but has since been removed from the site. Another work attributed to Bailey was on sale for 120 ethereum. About 12 artists are considering legal action against the project, according to legal representatives. A representative for Bailey said he had not given permission or received any proceeds of any sale. They said they would be looking into the matter. Kapoor’s team declined to comment. Damien Hirst, whose work was included to promote the collection but not sold as an NFT, did not respond to a request for comment. The Art Wars NFT page on OpenSea was taken down yesterday.
Moore sent an email to artists on November 4 informing them of the collection. Ben Moore did not deny claims
“[Art Wars] regrets that some of the artists were taken by surprise, and have since expressed a preference not to be included. Of course, we’ve respected those wishes,” he said. Any artists remaining in the project would “receive royalties in the usual way”
Ben Moore told Art Newspaper
“Art Wars has always been a charitable endeavour” since its launch in 2013, with proceeds going to the Missing People charity. We regret that some of the artists were taken by surprise, and have since expressed a preference not to be included—of course we’ve respected those wishes. We really value the relationship we’ve built with them over that time. We’re still very excited about the NFT project as it has successfully raised £30,000 for the charity.” Moore adds that Art Wars plans to release further NFTs and all artists that remain involved will “receive royalties in the usual way”.
Aretha Campbell, an artists’ manager at Bridgeman Images, which represents the artists Antony Micallef and Miranda Donovan in this emerging dispute,says:
“Whilst we totally appreciate there is a rush to profit, it is better to wait for the right partner that fits with the artist’s brand and ensure any legal uncertainties have been addressed from the start.”